http://www.princeton.edu/~jdpeters/docs ... piad99.pdf

3. A uniform 2 kg cylinder rests on a lab cart as shown. The coefficient of static friction between the cylinder and the cart is 0.5. If the cylinder is 4 cm in diameter and 10 cm high, which of the following is closest to the minimum acceleration required to cause the cylinder to tip over?

This question had me a bit confused for a while. I found that I could get the right answer by assuming the static friction is essentially infinite and then transforming into the cart frame where the cylinder experiences an inertial force of m*a in addition to gravity m*g acting down. Then applying torque balance about the lower corner of the cylinder gives me

5 cm * m *a = 2 cm * m * g

and thus a = 0.4* g = 4 m/s/s

Does anyone know of a more elegant approach to this question?

Thanks